A passion for pet health and happiness inspires a booming raw pet food business

With a passion for promoting healthier pets, Sherin Laurie and Rob Eamon are growing their two-decades-old family business with the same mission and commitment as when they initially launched: producing a top-quality, healthy product for a reasonable price.

Top Hand Supplies in Cranbrook, and its raw pet food brand, Pets Go Raw, began when Laurie and her former partner started making food by hand in their home kitchen for their beloved Shiba Inu show dogs. “Shortly after one of our show dogs began eating a raw food diet, we were so impressed by his coat and condition that we changed his diet permanently to frozen, raw food,” says Laurie. “That is where it all began.”

The couple wanted a product that could be fed to both mature dogs and weaning puppies. They settled on a recipe, bought a small grinder and bagged the raw food by hand. It didn’t take long for others to notice. Wanting similar healthy results for their dogs, friends and acquaintances started requesting Laurie’s pet food.

To meet the increasing demand, Laurie worked evenings and weekends, producing in her kitchen until she was no longer able to keep up with production. It became clear they needed to expand. The successful, yet still fledgling, business incorporated in 2004 and moved to a building in Cranbrook. Since then, the company has continued to grow.

By spring 2018, with the help of new Vice-President and Laurie’s son, Rob Eamon, Top Hand Supplies was ready to take the business to yet another level. They knew they’d need help, and found it through Basin RevUp.

According to Eamon, “The program is great for small businesses. It has helped us focus attention on what we should be doing as opposed to just day-to-day operations.”

The Trust introduced the Basin RevUp business growth accelerator program in 2018. It helps Basin businesses that are poised for growth to address their individual challenges so they can grow, thrive and obtain future success.

Developed by Accelerate Okanagan, the program connects these businesses with experienced mentors, called executives-in-residence, and provides customized growth plans, mentorship and coaching, tailored training opportunities and peer-to-peer engagement.

For Top Hand Supplies, the program was a great fit given Laurie and Eamon’s vision of where the business needs to go. According to Eamon, “We had to stop thinking ‘mom and pop’ and look beyond, much bigger.”

“One of the most important things we took away from the program was that a new model we were considering wasn’t right for our business at that time—our best move was actually not to do what we had planned,” explains Eamon. “Through the assistance of Basin RevUp, we enjoyed higher-level business management mentoring. Our RevUp team taught us how to analyze the numbers and data and apply proper thought to all aspects of the business.”

Excited about the future, Eamon says, “We look at Top Hand Supplies as a legacy—something we want to grow and continue to pass down.”

COVID-19 has created unprecedented challenges for people and communities in the Columbia Basin and our Basin RevUp program is changing how we are supporting businesses because of this. We know that businesses are dealing with the challenges and impacts of COVID-19 and our team is here to help. Learn more here.